The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has declined to uphold five complaints alleging that a TV commercial for Weetabix Ltd.’s Weetos breakfast cereal promoted “poor nutritional habits and an unhealthy lifestyle in children, because… it encouraged excessive consumption.” According to ASA, the ad in question showed a child eating Weetos for breakfast and later in the day as a snack, with the product’s tagline stating “FOR BREAKFAST AND BEYOND.”
Rebutting the allegations, Weetabix reportedly said that “the ad was lighthearted but did not encourage excessive consumption” or poor nutritional habits, especially since the cereal advertised was “not a high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) product as defined by the Food Standards Agency.” The company also argued that the portions shown in the commercial were consistent with marketing conventions and standards, as well as research indicating that consumers often ate Weetos for snacks and meals other than breakfast.
“[Weetabix] considered that to encourage excessive consumption of a product that was not classed as an ‘unhealthy’ food the ad would need to encourage children to consume highly excessive quantities of the cereal, which, although subjective, would involve significantly more cereal than was shown,” reported ASA in its ruling. “However, the boy was shown eating sparingly from a regular sized bowl and later taking a small amount from a comparatively small container.”
The agency ultimately agreed with Weetabix’s response, concluding that its cereal was not a HFSS product and that “the consumption shown was not excessive.” In addition, ASA noted that the slogan “FOR BREAKFAST AND BEYOND” “was likely to be interpreted as suggesting Weetos could also be eaten as a snack other than at breakfast time, rather than that they should be eaten excessively.” Its final assessment found that the commercial did not breach BCAP Code rules 13.2 and 13.3 (Food, food supplements and associated health or nutrition claims), with no further action necessary.